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The old Respectful Insolence is dead. Long live the new Respectful Insolence!

What the title says. The old ScienceBlogs version of Respectful Insolence is dead. (Well, not quite, but it soon will be.) This new independent version of Respectful Insolence now rises in its place.

The old Respectful Insolence is dead.

Here is the new home of Respectful Insolence. Long may it live!

There have been some unexpected glitches in making this shiny new blog ready to become the official repository of Orac’s Insolence, Respectful and otherwise. In particular, updating the internal links to the new blog format so that they are not dead links has proven more challenging than expected. (If you encounter any old ScienceBlogs links, you can convert them to links here by changing “” to “” It’s a kludge, but hopefully it won’t be necessary too long. Also, the old blog will remain for a few more days in a read-only mode before disappearing into the ether forever. You won’t be able to comment there any more.

Those of you who are not familiar with the blog and its long history, I encourage you to check out my new description of this blog’s mission and of who Orac is. Also note that, although I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten all the posts over, maybe 10% of the comments didn’t make it over, for some reason. I’m trying to figure it out, but at some point, if I don’t figure it out, I’ll have to give up, asking how much effort I want to put into recovering comments that are years old and unlikely to be read. Sorry if that disappoints anyone, but I’m out of time and have already spent a ridiculous amount of time on the migration. So has Alain, who has been kind enough to volunteer his services.

Finally, I know what you’re thinking. When, you’re asking, will Orac start laying down regular doses of that that Insolence you either crave or, if you’re an antivaxer, quack, crank, or science denialist, hate so much? Good question. Soon. That’s about the best I can do. I originally said that I would probably start up again by November 2, but I think it is more likely to be next week. As I said, the transition has been more difficult than anticipated and personal real life has also made it seem prudent that I delay relaunching the blog until next week. I want things to be working properly before I start publishing new blog posts here.

However, you never know. I might see something that so irritates, amuses, or intrigues me that I can’t resist writing about it. In the meantime, kick the tires. Comment. Tell me what you’d like to see in the new blog.

And, because it’s Halloween, and I’m a Walking Dead fan…

No there’s another way to rise from the ashes!

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

228 replies on “The old Respectful Insolence is dead. Long live the new Respectful Insolence!”

Thanks to Orac and Alain for building a new home for the old blog!

Happy Halloween to all who celebrate, and cheers to more insolence soon, whenever you and/or blog are ready!

Hooray for the new blog! Not a huge fan of the ginormous pictures, since I read mainly on computers, not tablet, iPad or phone (shudder). But I’ll definitely still hang around. (Is it safe to go back to an old email yet?)

So far I like what I see and things working better than the old site. Many thanks for your efforts. You and Alain should enjoy a feeling of accomplishment.

“A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any other invention with the possible exceptions of handguns and Tequila.”

― Mitch Ratcliffe

Just sayin’.

Welcome back from the grave!

And special thanks to Alain for all the help.

Since I’m in the throes of a major move of a more traditional sort, I,LLC add a little food note.

I’ve discovered that thinly sliced Buffalo Chicken strips from Buffalo Wild Wings make a great addition to one of those boxed pasta meals we happened to have.

Glad you’re undead, Orac. Long may you blink, and the plexi remain un-yellowed.

Well, you’ve got a redirect for the time being. And Mark Thorson didn’t get my final suggestion.

What’s that poem? “We rise, we rise” No, no it’s not vampire.

At any rate, I will continue to scour the crankosphere for new woo daily.

As a side note, perhaps Orac’s move has inspired Jake to show up at AoA. This can be the start of something big. Heh.

I feel that using, and will serve as an intelligence test, leaving many of Orac’s critics out. ( see the recent hilarious guessing game about Sceptical Raptor at AoA for a sample)

If Orac and Alain were truly skeevey,( and they’re not), they could make a Mike Adams-like web of sites.

Don’t worry, SB people will find you and the loons will later straggle in for our entertainment.

I’ve discovered that thinly sliced Buffalo Chicken strips from Buffalo Wild Wings make a great addition to one of those boxed pasta meals we happened to have.

A girlfriend and I once spruced up a fancy molded biryani with leftover chicken from the late lamented Ribs ‘N’ Bibs.

And man, is this site slow.

Looks like things are mostly working here. A few bugs to be worked out, but there always are with migrations like this.

Large fonts are not necessarily a bad thing. A few years ago I broke down and accepted that I needed reading glasses. Downside: I don’t read books as much as I used to, because of the extra effort involved (you don’t want to wear reading glasses for other purposes–don’t ask me how I know this). So far I haven’t needed reading glasses to look at screens, and the longer that remains true, the better.

I don’t have problems wearing readingglasses. I use them al the time when I’m behind the computer. And I still read a lot.

I will say one thing about the new commenting system: with both the above comment @1516 and the other test comment I made a few hours ago on the “under construction” post, when I hit the “Post Comment” button the comment disappeared for a minute or so, before reappearing. That’s a bit disconcerting, since it isn’t immediately apparent whether the post is taking or whether it is being redirected to a spam or trash folder. (Safari v. 10.1.2 (10603.3.8) on MacOS 10.10.5, in case the tech support people want to know.)

Yeah, I see what you mean. I might have to disable some commenting bells and whistles and/or upgrade my hosting account, which is actually rather basic right now because when I signed up for it expected my traffic to suck for many months as I rebuild after losing a lot of my old Google juice.

To my pleasant surprise, yesterday on this new blog I garnered traffic about 1/2 to 2/3 of that of a usual normal day on the old RI blog. I suspect the influx will fade in the short term, probably its probably being largely due to the announcement of the move. It might also have something to do with 301 redirects, in which case it might be more sustained, and I might bounce back to my former traffic levels much sooner than I had anticipated. (I had guessed that it would take months, if not years, to rebuild to my old traffic levels.) Or it might not. Only time will tell after I get back to regular posting next week.

In any case, regardless of traffic I’ll fiddle with some settings tonight.

Large fonts are not necessarily a bad thing.

Combined with the excessive leading, it’s pretty bad here. I don’t know how much CSS experience Alain has, but this sort of thing is pretty easily tweaked (as I’ve noted by file and line at the SB site, which no longer has a redirect).

Apparently, blocking this script actually prevents commenting in this setup. Amazing.

I [h]ave no idea what this means.

Here. I’m just trying to block as much cruft as possible while maintaining basic functionality.

A 2.6 MB page would pretty quickly exhaust my government phone, mobification notwithstanding.

Disabling queuehandler.js improves performance, but it also breaks “likes.” There’s nothing like poking the bloatware that is Jetpack with a stick to see what it will do.

Woohoo, glad to have you back Orac, if only for one post before having another week off ;). Big thanks also to Alain, i bet this would have taken much longer without your help.

The comments thread takes up a LOT of vertical space. This could get very unwieldy if not downright unreadable when lots of comments fly. It’s not the font size of the comments themselves so much, but the large font for the nyms, the large avatars, and there just being a ton of extra white space in every direction. I don’t know what the reformatting options are, or about the desktop vs. mobile issues, but this will be hell to scroll in a long thread, and it would sure be nice if it were more compact…

I’d also vote for a more obvious marking of links than just the mid-gray. They’re too easy to miss. The standard blue may be a bit much in brightness and saturation, but you should be able to use any non-neutral hue and adjust the S and B to a tone that works for the overall design.

OK, I’m getting bored. It’s the “likes” widget that seems to be the most sluggish item here. Serve it locally.

Just a quicky,

This techy (me!) is going to bed (or should have went 15 minutes ago) and will checkup everything over the next few days starting from tomorrow.


Just thinking aloud … ( and trying to avoid TV news about nearby terrorism Yiiiiii!)

As you may know, Jake Crosby ( Autism Investigated) is NOT linking to the new site and warning Karate Kim to do the same at AoA. so that Orac’s work will shrivel up and die.
I doubt that that’s the REAL reason:
I think that he doesn’t want anti-vaxxers to be exposed to what we ( or the Sceptical Raptor for that matter) say,that is, to SENSE and reality.

Orac has a large readership and his powers are not limited to his personal blog.

The number of people who read the aforementioned anti-vax rags is not huge.( one can estimate them easily) They don’t follow SB material for the most part.

No, Jake is afraid of Orac and company.

You’ll notice that Orac – and yours truly- always either link to or describe the loci of woo-meisters’/ anti-vaxxers’ swill.
I personally WANT people to read ( or listen to) people like Null, Adams and Mercola (, Natural News, respectively) as well as anti-vax moms like Rossi, Conrick, Dachel, O’Toole, McNeil, Habakus et al ( see Age of Autism, Thinking Moms Revolution, Fearless Parent, respectively)
Their own words are often the best argument against them.
I daresay that perhaps I have in this way contributed to their final tallies. Lots of Orac’s minions read this stuff.
They should thank us.

No preview, but (at least for me) the reply window automatically grows to show the entire entry.

It’s not preview, but it’s the next best thing. It’s a lot easier to see mistakes.

It’s not preview, but it’s the next best thing.

It’s freaking WordPress. A commenting system like that at Popehat (which I’m not crazy about, but which would at least settle this matter) could be dropped in trivially. It ought to be even simpler than the freaking CSS.

Oh, goody, wrapping words in asterisks automagically makes them italic. As though I didn’t know how to use italics if I freaking wanted them.


A mere echo of a disappeared comment that got lost in the transfer. It happens.

Is there any chance of turning on comment numbering?

I tried to get to my WordPress account, but got a survey about “my website” instead.

Then I tried to refresh the tab with the older comment and got:

Service Unavailable
Guru Meditation:

XID: 211910272

That should say “older article” rather than “older comment”.

Reply depth seems to be limited to 3. Is that appropriate for this gang?

Clicking on the WP widget in the submit dialog gets me to the WP login popup, which doesn’t work. Maybe I screwed up my email address or my password.

Then I got an email via WordPress to confirm my subscription to this page. The subscription was in the WP subscription list for my account.

I still have to enter my ‘nym and email address, though.

The previous comment is awaiting moderation, ’cause I managed to misenter my ‘nym as “S”. Oh, well. That seems to work, I guess.

No. I never liked numbered comments. the numbering frequently changed as I approved new comments, breaking many references to previous comments. A date and time stamp doesn’t change as new comments are approved. I realize it’s longer, but using date/time stamps eliminates what was a major annoyance for me on the old blog.

I concur. On SB I had to refer to posts by number, because the commenting system there stopped listing the times of the post. But as you point out, the number is subject to change, while the time stamp is not. So I can refer to, in this case, “[email protected]” and there is no doubt about which post I mean (if I make the reasonable assumption that even a box of blinking lights is unlikely to make more than one post per minute).

Please get rid of comment threading. I usually read RI on my phone, and I won’t see new comments when I refresh if they’re direct replies to an earlier comment. Also, folks here like to make very long, info-heavy comments, which doesn’t go well with multiple indent levels and the ever-narrowing columns of text they create.

As good an opportunity as any to switch to another nym!

I was seriously considering “Hieronymus Borsch,” but in the end decided against it.

Great pun, but methinks if you go for a new nym you might consider referencing some IWW-ish or otherwise Lefty political something. I actually just Googled “IWW women” and the second hit was a page about Lucy Parsons on the IWW site. Pretty rad lady. Check it out!

Takes some getting used to the logging on aspect of commenting; I suppose I can just use my email and nym like over at the old RI.

The website looks great on my phone, but as others have noted, less good on my laptop.

And yeah, the nested comments are annoying. It took me a while to figure out to whom Orac was replying just now, for instance.

Direct replies are indented. (That works up to three or four levels, after which you have to pay closer attention.) You may have to scroll up a bit, but look for the last post to be less indented than the post in question.

It does take some getting used to, but there are significant advantages to it. I’m personally agnostic: I can understand the arguments for going the other way, but as long as the system in place works I can deal with it.

This time when I replied to the Orac post in question, I noticed that there was a Cancel Reply link. So you have a few seconds after pushing the button to say, “Oh, [expletive], I shouldn’t have put that in a blog comment,” and cancel before it appears. At least that’s true if I correctly understand what that link does.

I was seriously considering “Hieronymus Borsch,” but in the end decided against it

“Ersatz Haderach” has already been taken. If anyone wants to be “Abdul al-Hazmat”, I am not possessive about it.

I’m obviously seeing entire comments, but below each is a blue star and “loading…” next to it. What is loading? Why doesn’t it finish? Using iMac desktop/Safari, all latest versions. Thanks anyone who knows.

One thing that Gilbertimmeh did have right was that the old killfile needed a wholesale rewrite; it was redrawing the whole page. Time to refresh my XPath neurons.

I’m afraid culture pessimists find confirmation in the new format. It’s not made for serious text on a big-screen desktop. One three-word comment virtually fills the entire screen. It looks like dumbing-down.
Not that I’m not aware of the difficulties, and of all that Orac has done over the years to hold back the tides of mediaevalism.
yours scrolling eternally…

Of course, for those who dislike nested comments sprinkled willy-nilly across the screen (L-rd only knows what will happen with a long thread), there remains the option of not using them and proceeding as before.


Yeah, Lucy Parsons was awesome! For now I’ll settle for a new avatar, perhaps I will come up with a clever nym. 🙂


Yeah, long threads were exactly what I was thinking of when it comes to the nested comments.

Oh, dear, Sandy Gottstein has fallen on hard blog times. I noticed this only because Yazbork will probably be incoherently cheesed off in some fashion or another by this, if he ever notices it. (And yes, the crazylink was courtesy of AoA.)

Wow. There’s no way he’s spending $20,000 a year in hosting and technical fees. His site is too bare bones, and I highly doubt he has traffic that would cost anywhere near that amount to host. I currently have a fairly bare bones hosting plan, which I will upgrade as my traffic recovers, and I bet I probably get at least as much traffic now as Gottstein does. Maybe he’s paying himself or others for the time it takes them to find vaccine news and write articles about it. That’s the only way I can think of to hit $20,000 a year.

Maybe the legal fees relate to access to the vaccine court documents? I don’t know why i am even trying to find a decent reason for this cost, it is ridiculous .

Maybe the legal fees relate to access to the vaccine court documents?

I’m reminded of Krakow’s asshurt over being informed that grossly overbroad FOIA requests actually take time to complete and aren’t free.

I work in a different country so do not know the cost of FOIA requests and legal access in the US. But, it legitimately could be a death from a thousand cuts type of thing. In Aus FOI requests (or the states equivalents) are not especially expensive but send enough of them and the cost would add up. It is probably unlikely, but it is at least plausible that the costs are real.

But, it legitimately could be a death from a thousand cuts type of thing.

No, it was one preposterously massive request (emphasis added):

“In Unanswered Questions we found 83 compensated cases of vaccine-induced brain damage in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) that also featured autism. This number is alarming because we were able to access less than 200 compensated cases. As of 2011, there were over 1,300 cases compensated.

“We wanted to look at all of the compensated cases but the government blocked our efforts by advising us that our request would take five years and cost $750,000.”

Gee, Bob, you think there might be a certain amount of redaction involved in that request?

^ I guess those weren’t Krakow’s words (I blame the Dachelbot’s composition skills), but I’m pretty damn sure he’s said as much. Here is Conte with the same routine.

Yay! It worked.

Happy to see the new site up and working. Can’t wait for my next dose of insolence! 🙂

A quick survey indicates that woo-meisters and anti-vaxxers are indeed bereft of ideas they continually attempt to resurrect old newsflashes ( i.e. about AJW/ AoA, Autism Investigated), AGW denialism turned up to 11 ( Natural News) and Clinton/ liberal bashing ( TMR was so forgettable that I already forgot what it was.

Anyway, I used to connect to the old RI instantly through a frequent use mark involving the post about a doctor and Goop, I expected it to NOT connect any more BUT, lo and behold! it links to the new RI with the old post. RIGHT HERE! Woo hoo.

Woo-meisters and anti-vaxxers are indeed great at recycleing. Or beating a dead horse. Whatever.

Jake has now posted, the third in, what he promises to deliver, a continuing series of articles about how Paul Offit is sometimes still called the Chief of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and not the ex-Chief of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. What roll that plays in the investigation of the who, what, when, where and why of the autism epidemic (in that order!) is something I have yet to figure out, but maybe it will come to me.

I would also note that from the time Jake promised he wouldn’t link to our new home, and cut off our host’s oxygen, his site has 10 comments, 6 by Hans, and one by Jake himself. This thread has 10 different minions commenting in the first 10 posts. No doubt Jake and the other loons will say they are all ‘bots and shills.

It’s a good thing a box of blinker lights doesn’t need oxygen

@ Johnny:

Oh I know.

I can assure you that because of my travels around these g-dforsaken malarial swamps of unreason ( listed above) I know- or can infer-a great deal about how these people think, interact with others and/ or run their businesses.

I don’t always note my thoughts because I want to allow readers to make their own judgments.

But there are loads of awfulness.
I can usually point to references as I have recently such as Linked In for two people. Others link themselves to materials that show that they may have been exaggerating their roles as caretakers ( because of their devotion to outside interests over several years) and two who tell others how to avoid disaster have been rocked themselves more than once over the past few years. Or an activist having to give up anti-vax activities due to psychological issues due to med refusal. Or how newbies to woo socially climb through video or articles.

It’s a harsh world out there but someone has to do it, why not me?

It’s a good thing a box of blinker lights doesn’t need oxygen

Jake will also be annoyed to learn that my traffic is rebuilding even faster than I could have imagined that it would, and I haven’t even posted any new material yet. 🙂

Thanks to my old Sb overlords for setting up a 301 direct and letting it run until November 30.

“Damn it, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a web design guru and script jockey!”

Give the poor perspex box and his web minions a chance to get the site going. At least some of the layout and design issues are probably tweakable. And, to re-paraphrase Willie Sutton, mobile is where the action is (at least a damn good sized portion). Some compromise is going to be in order.

Excellent! Congratulations Orac (and Alain) – everything looks great. Looking forward to seeing some brand new respectful insolence in the near future.

It looks great. Actually it looks huge! It might be the hugest blog I visit.
But I keep visiting.

Well, it worked, but for some reason when the site reappeared it took me back to the top. Interesting.

Testing…testing…Carey Gillam is a “journalist” in the same sense that Sharyl Attkisson is…testing to see if I’m still in mod pre-approval hell…testing.

Tomljenovic suggested in an email that the problems with the most recent vaccine paper were the result of “intentional sabotage.”

The paper underwent review for nine months prior to publication and nothing came up. “But the bloggers caught it right away. How is that possible?” she said.

“I do believe the truth will come out.”


When the retraction issue bubbled up a few weeks ago, Shaw and Tomljenvoic were getting ready to release a new book they had co-edited with Dwoskin and Lujan called Controversies in Vaccine Safety.

But in light of the journal retraction, Shaw said he and Tomljenovic decided to remove their names and their chapter from the book.

“We didn’t want people to say, ‘Aha! Just another anti-vacc(ine) book. Look at Shaw and Tomljenovic. We know them,’ ” he said.

A spokesman for Elsevier, the book’s publisher, said this week authors of several other chapters have since decided to withdraw their contributions in the wake of the controversy and the book has been cancelled.

Here’s another good quote from the article.

“Just because someone is thinking against the grain doesn’t mean they’re a crank, as long as they’re careful with evidence,” said Heather Douglas, a University of Waterloo philosophy professor specializing in values in science and science policy.

Operative words “careful with the evidence”. And it is blatantly obvious that Shaw was reckless as anything.

The paper underwent review for nine months prior to publication and nothing came up. “But the bloggers caught it right away. How is that possible?” she said.

Shorter Tomljenovic: “I would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for those meddlesome kidsbloggers!”

I would have gotten away with it

No, Tomljenovic may genunely believe that there was an earlier version of the paper, which was rigorous and convincing and full of incontrovertible evidence, the version that passed nine months of review… which has vanished without trace, replaced by the version with the recycled diagram and all the other fabricated diagrams and the description of the research that is contradicted by earlier descriptions. The new version and the substitution being the work of a conspiracy.

Remember, Tomljenovic has also told journalists that she had nothing to do with the paper, she takes no responsbility for it, she didn’t contribute anything and her name is signed on it only through some kind of freak accident. I am quite happy to believe that she never read any version of it and has no notion what it actually contained.

I’ll be jiggered if I can figure out where that invalid-token message is coming from, but it’s in here.

I’ll be jiggered if I can figure out where that invalid-token message is coming from, . . .

One of us has already broken the comment system, but it wasn't me, I hope.
Just someone trying to quote me in a reply.

Well, piffle! Now it has the star and says “Loading . . . ” above “Reply, ” instead of “Like.” Someone is going to have some explaining to do.

Gotta go. I hear my late mother calling me for supper.

I’ll be jiggered if I can figure out where that invalid-token message is coming from


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